Our Scripture – 2 Peter 1:5-15
Our Theme – Believers in Christ should give diligence to make their salvation certain by developing Christian character.
I have heard some incredible promises in my lifetime, just as you probably have also. Most often the promises made by advertising companies far exceeds than what they actually delivers. It’s a good thing God isn’t like us. So often we find ourselves failing in our promises to Him. We even ignore or challenge His commands. We give in to our sinful nature and do the very things we know we ought not to do. Or worse yet, we choose not to do that which we are expected to do and we often doubt Him and His Eternal Word.
However, the promises in our text are completely reliable. Indeed, the benefits of heeding Peter’s words, and the consequences of neglecting them, are enormous. Paying attention to them will keep us from being useless and unfruitful in our relationship with Jesus Christ (verse 8) and will enable us to live in the present, in light of our past conversion, and our hope for the future (verse 9).
Doing as Peter instructs can keep us from stumbling and will assure us of a triumphant entry into the kingdom of our Lord. On the other hand, neglecting Peter’s instruction reduces our perception and confidence in the salvation God has provided and sets us up for a fall. Peter’s own words should convince us to pay careful attention to what he has to say. Thus may we approach this study with a deep sense of its importance and with an open and willing heart, eager to hear and to heed, what God’s Spirit has revealed in His Eternal Word.
SOME OBSERVATIONS FOR THE SAVED
Peter is writing to those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and not to the unsaved about their salvation.He does not challenge his readers to work hard in order to be saved, but to strive diligently because they are saved as stated in 2 Peter 1:1, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours”.
Peter calls for diligent, disciplined, life-long effort on the part of each believer (verse 5a). This is a discipleship text which requires discipline and self-denial. It is a challenge to every believer for every day of their life. The believer’s efforts are based on the sovereignty of God in salvation and the sufficiency of His provisions (verses 1-4). Salvation has been accomplished by God, through Christ, apart from human works or merit and He has provided all that is necessary for life and godliness (verse 3).
CHARACTER QUALITIES FOR THE SAVED
2 Peter 1:5-7, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love
Verses 5-7 contain a list of character qualities for which God has made provision and for which every believer should strive. This is not a list of imperatives, duties, or activities. Peter is not writing about “how to,” but about the kind of person the believer should strive to become. As believers we are to pursue these qualities, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by sinful desires (v. 4). These character qualities he lists are the particular character qualities of God and should also be evident in a believer’s life.
Peter gives us a list unlike any other list in the Scriptures. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists the “fruit of the Spirit.”1 Timothy 6:11 has yet another list of godly qualities the believer should pursue. None of the New Testament lists are exactly alike, which suggests that Peter has given us a selected list and that there are other character qualities to pursue. It also implies Peter’s list was compiled for a particular reason. I believe this list of qualities was chosen because of the false teachers who will seek to distort the truth of the Scriptures and seek to seduce men to follow them. If the character qualities of verses 5-7 are also the attributes of God, they are in dramatic contrast to the character of the false teachers and their followers.
A purposeful order and relationship is evident in this list of qualities. This list of qualities is not presented in a way that suggests a random order. Each quality builds upon the qualities before it. The sequence of qualities begins with faith and ends with love. These qualities are similar to the ingredients in a cake recipe where all ingredients are needed, but they should be added in the proper order.
One of the hallmarks of a believer’s maturity should be an increasing dissatisfaction with our present level of spiritual maturity. This shouldn’t produce despair; rather it should stir us to develop in an increasing measure the character traits to which Peter refers to in (2 Peter 1:5-7). We should become, for example, more virtuous, more knowledgeable, and more self-controlled.
How much thought do you give to your need for continued spiritual growth? How do you respond when you think about the spiritual growth that is still necessary in your life? Do you ignore your need for growth? Do you let it discourage you, or are you motivated to do something about it? This study completes Peter’s opening thoughts in his second letter. He presents the purpose of character development and then shares his own desire to put believers “in remembrance of these things.”
Picky people are often dissatisfied with less than perfect results. Some want every blade of grass in their lawns the same length. Others want their houses to be free to even a speck of dirt. Still others want their coffee a particular temperature and their eggs a specific consistency.
- Are you a picky person?
- What, if anything, are you the pickiest about?
- How is your level of satisfaction with your spiritual growth affected by your pickiness?
- In what sense should every believer be a little picky about their spiritual growth?
Peter talks about our need to grow spiritually. All of us should look at our level of spiritual growth with some measure of dissatisfaction.
PURPOSE OF CHARACTER GROWTH
2 Peter 1:8, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”
Peter exhorts believers to develop these character qualities so they will reap an abundant harvest. If we neglect these virtues (vs. 5-7), the results will be spiritual forfeiture and loss. The apostle deals with this possibility positively (v. 8) and then negatively (v. 9). The positive side of the exhortation is that a continual increase in these qualities will lead to an abundant spiritual harvest for us. We are to develop all these character traits at the same time, even though at one or another point in our Christian experience we may focus on developing a specific quality. The experiences of life demand this simultaneous development of these character traits in our life. The thrust of Peter’s argument is that we must foster all of these qualities all the time without any break. God intends that we take no vacation or leave of absence; we must give complete attention to being all that we can as His ambassadors and for His glory. Peter also identifies two outcomes for abounding in these qualities (v. 8).
First, believers are not ineffective. The meaning of the word “barren” is “ineffective.” Peter makes a positive point with the use of a negative statement. We will live godly lives in which we experience and demonstrate the power of God. The fruit of these qualities will be evident in our lives.
Secondly, the outcome is that we will not be unproductive (v. 8). “Unproductive” is the meaning of the world “unfruitful.” Peter again presents a positive truth by the use of a negative statement. These character traits will be evident in our thinking and behavior, like produce from a fruit tree. This teaching parallels the apostle Paul’s exhortations on bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit found in (Galatians 5:22-25).
OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Peter is writing about maturing spiritually (2 Peter 1:8). God has created us so that we normally grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. 2 Peter 3:18 tells us to, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”; when it comes to how tall we stand, hereditary factors establish a ceiling that limits our height. Regardless of diet and exercise, physical growth ceases at a certain point. No matter how hard we may try, when that limit is reached we cannot grow anymore (vertically that is, though many of us have a tendency to continue to expand horizontally). However, our potential for spiritual growth is unlimited. How “tall” we become depends on our own desire and how much we draw on the provisions of our heavenly Father.
Once upon a time there was a Persian king who wanted to teach his four sons never to make rash judgments. So, he told the eldest son to go in winter to see a mango tree, the next son would go in spring, the third son in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. After the last son had returned from his autumn visit, the king called them together to describe what they had observed. “It looks like a burnt old stump,” said the eldest. “No,” said the second, “it is lacy green.” The third described it as “beautiful as a rose.” The youngest said, “No, its fruit is like a pear.” “Each is right,” said the king, “for each of you saw the tree in a different season.” This is also true for us as believers in Christ! We are all at different seasons of our spiritual growth.
What a lesson this fable holds for us who profess Jesus Christ as Savior of our life. Our maturity doesn’t just happen. Our “diet” has to be right and we must “exercise” our faith regularly. Unless we feast on God’s precious Word, there will be no growth. Unless we obey and practice what we have studied, we will never realize our full potential. Our brothers and sisters in the Lord are at different stages in their spiritual growth and who come from many different backgrounds and cultures. Their conversion to Christ is just the beginning of a lifetime of replacing old thoughts, attitudes, habits, and actions with new ones created by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Our spiritual maturity begins and continues with knowing Jesus Christ. We have a relationship with God and Jesus Christ to which Peter refers as knowing them (“knowledge” in vv. 2, 3). This doesn’t mean simply knowledge, but knowledge that is essential to a relationship. The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy, didn’t say, “I know in whom I have believed,” although this was also true. He didn’t say, “I know what I have believed,” although this also was true. Moreover, the Apostle Paul said, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). Not only did Paul know something about Jesus Christ, but he also knew Him personally. Salvation isn’t merely a matter of knowing something but believing Someone. My brethren, do you know Him? If so, do you enjoy reading what He says? If you know the author of the Book, you will love His Book.
By way of illustration, I read some time ago when a young woman laid aside a certain book she was reading because she thought it was rather boring. As time went on she became engaged to be married. One evening as they were sitting on the porch watching a beautiful sunset she said to her fiancé, “I have a book written by a man with the same name as yours. Isn’t that a coincidence?” The man replied, “That’s not a coincidence, you see I wrote the book you have!” That very night she sat up until the wee hours of the morning reading the book she once found to be very dull. It was now the most exciting book she had ever read. You see she had fallen in love with the author.
If you have been saved by Christ; today, and every day, we must make time to study God’s Word with diligence and purpose, because without the knowledge of God and His purposes for us revealed in Scripture, we with our deceitfully wicked heart and sin-darkened minds have at best a blurred picture of the invisible and all powerful Creator. However, when we pick up the Bible and encounter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; when we study and are obedient to His Word, we will become better ambassadors for Him, and to become more mature in our knowledge of His Word.
MAKING OUR SALVATION SURE
2 Peter 1:9-10, “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.
Peter describes the believer who is ineffective and unfruitful as being blind. He can see only those things that are near, for he is nearsighted. He is blind to what lies ahead and suffers from spiritual shortsightedness. Peter is explaining that believers who abound in Christian virtues see the end of the way (v. 9).
Until then God’s purpose is that we keep moving toward the goal by continuing to mature in our knowledge of His Word. The nearsighted believer sees only the present, for his goal is to just get through the day without a diligent commitment to spiritual maturity (2 Peter 1:9). He is absorbed with only those things that are close at hand. He does not look at the goal ahead, and he has forgotten that God cleansed him from his sins for a purpose. As we progress in maturing in our faith the qualities of goodness, self-control, perseverance and godliness; we remain aware of our forgiveness and cleansing from sin.
We experience the joy of being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The believer who suffers from spiritual shortsightedness does so because he has forgotten that he has been purged from his sins (2 Peter 1:9). He has failed to make the effort he should in developing those qualities found in (v. 5). Spiritual shortsightedness is progressive unless reversed. Peter calls all believers to decisive action (2 Peter 1:10). He urges us to diligently make our salvation certain. We do this by abounding in the effective and fruitful development of Christian character qualities (v. 8).
We not only make certain our eternal relationship with God by growth in our Christian character, but we are also kept from falling (2 Peter 1:10 and stumbling and falling into sin (2 Peter 1:10). This is the reason he warns us about the doctrine and ways of false teachers.
2 Peter 1:12-15, “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease”
We have discussed thus far how people are picky regarding the temperature of their coffee or the consistency of their eggs. We should also be picky regarding our level of spiritual growth and more importantly we should be as picky regarding the church we attend.
People pick churches for the most superficial reasons. The following are a few reasons why people go to a certain church: (1) “Our kids like it there because it’s fun.” The same thing could be said about the circus; (2) “Our friends go there and there is an atmosphere of acceptance.” The same could be said of the local bar; (3) “The music rocks.” The same could be said of a performance of a hot musical group; (4) “I get a good feeling when I go there.” I could say the same thing about my favorite restaurant.
Of course, children’s programs at church should have an element of fun to them. We shouldn’t bore kids with the truth. And, churches should be friendly. Fellowship is important. I’m not so sure that the music should “rock,” but it should be spiritually uplifting and musically pleasant. I don’t know what to say about the “good feelings” comments. We should feel good about church, but for the right reasons. Occasionally, but not often enough, we hear, “I go to that church because they preach the Word of God clearly and without compromise.” That should be the primary factor in deciding which church you will join.
But due to the persistent modern day thinking that there is no such thing as absolute truth, sound doctrine has taken a back seat to many other things. There is also a strong cultural emphasis on inclusiveness and accepting everyone, no matter what the person thinks or believes. Holding to sound doctrine seems opposed to love and acceptance. So even many popular pastors chant the hymn, “They will know we are Christians by our love, not by our doctrine.”
But the apostles were very concerned that the churches be steadfast in holding to sound doctrine. In his final three letters (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus), the apostle Paul repeatedly emphasizes the need for Timothy to hold to and preach sound doctrine. John, the apostle of love, emphasizes sound doctrine in his three epistles. Jude (v. 3) appeals to his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
And Peter will spend all of chapter 2 and a good part of chapter 3 warning about false teachers. He ends this short letter exhorting his readers (2 Peter 3:17), “be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.” Peter is emphasizing the need for believers to be firmly grounded in the essential truths of the gospel, so that we don’t fall prey to false teachers.
As Peter reflects on the present and eternal implications of what he has written, he expresses his resolve and is determined to keep on reminding believers of the importance of spiritual maturity and sound doctrine. As believers, we will always be faced with the danger of being preoccupied with the things of this life and forgetting about the things of eternity. Forgetting God’s truth is hazardous to our identity as believers in Christ. Peter’s commitment to this task is set within the particular circumstances of his own life and death, as well as within the circumstances that might occur to Christians who survive him.
2 Peter 1:12, “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth”
Peter expresses his intent with action words. He intends “to put” believers in remembrance. In verse 13 he intends to stir up their memory. He never forgot the admonition of Christ that he, Peter, was to strengthen fellow believers after his restoration (Luke 22:32).
The apostle intends to remind his readers about “these things” (2 Peter 1:12). This term encompasses the things that Peter explained and exhorted us about in the proceeding verses. If refers to the truths that we embrace by personal faith. Peter affirms later in this first chapter that the truth we believe came to us by special revelation (vv. 20, 21). The apostles are the pro-claimers of the truth, not the creators of truth. The same is true of God’s people as His witnesses.
The truth has been confirmed in those to whom Peter writes (2 Peter 1:12). They know the truth and are fixed firmly in it, although they need to be reminded. The word “established” means “to set fast.” It is the word Jesus used when He told Peter to “strengthen” his brothers (Luke 22:32. Peter was to set them fast in the faith. We have a solemn reminder that it is all too easy for those who are fixed in the faith to forget (2 Peter 1:12). Those who forget the truth are in danger of wobbling spiritually. The unstable are moving targets for false teachers (2 Peter 2:14). Those who distort the meaning of Scripture are unstable (2 Peter 3:16).
REFRESHING OUR MEMORY
2 Peter 1:13, 14, “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me”
In verse 13, Peter considers it right to stir up his readers by way of reminder. “Stir up” means to arouse or awaken from sleep. Peter himself had learned this the hard way. Jesus warned him in advance that he would deny Him. Then, in the garden, Jesus told Peter, James, and John to stay alert and pray so that they would not enter into temptation. But they all fell asleep and, just a short time later, Peter denied his Lord (Matthew 26:36-46).
Because of our fallen nature, we’re all prone to be spiritually sluggish and lazy. Because of this, we need sound teachers who are spiritually alert to prod us to wake up to the essential truths of God’s Word. When Peter says that after his departure his readers will be able to call these things to mind, he was probably referring to this very letter, which he left to them as his legacy (and for us also). While none of us can leave that kind of legacy behind, we can leave the legacy of the seed of the gospel sown in the hearts of our children and others with whom we have contact. We can leave the legacy of a godly example and good deeds, so that when others think of us, they will be drawn to our Savior and Lord.
Peter intends to remind his readers of the truth until his death just as we should as believers in Christ. The apostle has no retirement plans, except for his heavenly departure. He is actually laying out his continuing ministry through this letter, which is the second letter that he writes for that purpose (2 Peter 3:1, 2). This is Peter’s mission statement, vision statement, and life’s goal. Peter lives a meaningful life, for he has a good reason for living and never lacks for anything to do.
Peter considers it his duty (2 Peter 1:13) to call believers to remember the truth. The word “meet” means “just.” It is therefore proper, in a judicial sense, to remind his readers; it is the right thing to do. The apostle sees his body as a tent to be taken down (v. 13). He is determined to make the best use of the remaining time allotted to him. The figure of a tent depicts how transitory are our earthly lives. A tent is a temporary dwelling pitched for a short time. While God allows us to enjoy the property, we must use it as something that really belongs to Him (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Peter’s purpose is to arouse thoroughly, or to “stir,” the minds of God’s people (2 Peter 1:13). The word “stir” was used of arousing a person from drowsy inattention. Peter’s readers need a refresher course in what they know. A refresher course is always in order for Christians whenever spiritual amnesia might begin to set in. Peter knows his tent is to be taken down soon (v. 14). He views his situation as though he will be striking camp and moving on. He is far from being a bitter old man. The aging apostle knows his death is imminent. Christ predicted his martyrdom almost forty years earlier (John 21:18, 19). Peter is very likely in his seventies as he writes this letter. Church tradition states that he suffered martyrdom under Nero. Tradition also says that Peter was crucified upside down, for he refused to be crucified like Christ. Peter speaks of his forthcoming demise very calmly (2 Peter 1:14). Death is an exodus from this world and an entrance into God’s presence. He has no fear of death, for he knows he will move to a new, far better location.
THE BREVITY OF ONES LIFE
2 Peter 1:15, “And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things”
Now that Peter is older, he knows that his time is short. Nero was intensifying his persecution of believers. He sensed that Jesus’ words were about to come true and he repeats himself for emphasis. In spite of his approaching death, he will leave a legacy that cannot be destroyed. Peter wants to guarantee that his readers and that we will “always” remember what he taught. That guarantee comes from the Holy Spirit who enables him to write Scripture (1 and 2 Peter). Our guarantee of remembering Peter’s teaching comes from the written legacy of these two books. Thus, First and Second Peter are permanent reminders of apostolic teaching.
FOCUSING ON ETERNAL THINGS
Twice, Peter uses the word for his body, translated “earthly dwelling.” It’s the Greek word for “tabernacle,” or “tent.” Tents are temporary dwellings, used by nomads or travelers. It points to the shortness of life and the fact that we are only pilgrims, traveling through to our heavenly home. Peter emphasized this theme in his first letter. He begins it (1 Peter 1:1), “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout” a number of provinces in Asia Minor. He continues the theme (1:17), “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.” He adds (2:11), “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” Our stay on earth is short. We’re pilgrims and aliens here.
A pilgrim views life differently than a permanent resident does. He is just passing through. If you’re staying in a hotel, you don’t get too attached. You don’t move in your own furniture and put your own pictures on the walls. You’re just there for a short time and you’re gone. For us as believers, heaven is our permanent home. All of us will shortly be laying aside our earthly tent. Paul makes the point (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) that since our bodies are decaying, we should be focused, not on the things that are seen, but on the things which are not seen, those which are eternal.
CULTIVATING A BIBLICAL VIEW OF DEATH
Peter’s words teach us several things about how we should view death. For about 30 years at this point, he had been living with the knowledge that he would die an unpleasant death as an old man. And yet, he is not worried or upset about it! He views it as laying aside his body, a temporary tent, as he would take off old clothes. He wasn’t complaining that as a faithful apostle, he deserved better treatment in how he would die. He was at peace with God’s sovereign plan for his life. He demonstrated this same peace when he was supposed to be executed by Herod the next morning. The delivering angel found him so sound asleep that he had to hit him on the side to wake him up (Acts 12:7)! Peter was subject to the Lord’s will about when and how he died, so he was not anxious about his death.
Also, we learn that death is not cessation of existence, but rather separation of the soul from the body. At death, we lay aside this tent. The real you is not your body, although you dwell in it here on earth. The real you is your soul. To be absent from the body is “to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). (Paul, by the way, uses the same analogy of our bodies being a tent in 2 Corinthians 5:1). When Christ returns, we will receive our new resurrection bodies that will not be subject to aging, disease, or death (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 35-57). Thus, we should view death as departing from this earth to be with the Lord in heaven.
BECAUSE LIFE IS SHORT WE MUST USE OUR TIME WISELY IN SERVING THE LORD
A believer’s attitude in ministry begins with service. If you think about this for a minute, no role of ministry in the church; whether it is a position or a job to be done, can be effective unless there is first a right ATTITUDE and secondly a WILLINGNESS to SERVE, whether you’re young or old. If you are financially in a position where you no longer need to work, ask the Lord how He would like to use your remaining years for His purpose and His glory. A sound teacher of God’s precious Word is always ready to remind their students of what they already know by emphasizing the basic truths found in God’s Eternal Word.
Old age is the season when we can concentrate on getting to know God better and cultivating character traits (those mentioned by Peter) that make us more like Him. It’s God’s way of getting us to slow down so we’ll take more time for Him. We can think more deeply about the calm God gives us, the peace He leaves us, the benefits of His salvation, and His faithfulness to us (Psalm 71:15). It is the best time to grow in grace and godliness, in inner strength and beauty of character. “The silver-haired head,” the wise man said, “is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).
Our senior years can be viewed as a pleasantly useless era when we qualify for retirement benefits, senior discounts, and have a lot of free time to do nothing. Or we can see them as a time of great opportunity to be used for God. There’s so much left to do. For starters we can serve as mentors, teaching wisdom and virtue. Seniors can point to the ancient paths of holy living and encourage young believers to walk in them (Psalm 71:18; Jeremiah 6:16). My brethren, there is power in the example of an ordinary life lived with an awareness of God’s presence, seeing Him in everything and doing all things for Him. This is the mark of the mature soul, quietly and humbly going about ordinary tasks, living in joy, and leaving behind the fragrance of Jesus’ love.
Even if our journey leads to illness and weakness, and we’re confined to our homes and then to our beds, our years of fruitful service need not be over. We can still pray. Prayer is one of the special privileges of infirmity, and in the end may be its greatest benefit. Above all else, we can love. Love remains our last and best gift to God and to others. Mentoring, being a godly example, praying, and loving. These my brethren, are the opportunities of growing old gracefully with God.
Lastly, in our pursuit for the marks of maturity, we must not bypass that quality which so completely characterized the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which is the quality of unselfish servant hood. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). In the book of John it is recorded for us that during the Last Supper, Jesus performed the task of a lowly servant by washing His disciples’ feet, setting the stage for His astonishing statement about humility, “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:13-14). Thus, Christ is our perfect example!
No matter if you’re young or old or where you’re at in your walk with the Lord, Peter is saying we need to keep growing in our knowledge of God’s Word. He is also saying we need sound teachers and faithful witnesses to remind us often of the basic truths of the faith so that we stay on course and are not seduced by false teachers of the Gospel. To illustrate my point, God has limitless ways of reaching people for Christ (all we have to do is be available). So, if you don’t feel that you have the ability to reach others for Christ, please think about 76-year old Ethel Hatfield.
Desiring to serve her Lord, she asked her pastor if she could teach a Sunday school class. He informed her that he thought she was too old! She went home with a heavy heart and very disappointed. Then one day as Ethel was tending her rose garden, a Chinese student from the nearby university stopped to comment on the beauty of her flowers. She invited him in for a cup of tea. As they talked together, she had the opportunity to tell him about Jesus and His love. He returned the next day with another student, and that was the beginning of Ethel’s ministry.
Ethel was delighted to share the gospel of Christ with these students, because she knew He has the power to change lives. His gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Precisely because of Ethel’s age, Chinese students listened to her with respect and appreciation. When she died, a group of 70 Chinese believers sat together at her funeral. They had been won to Christ by a woman who was thought to be too old to teach a Sunday school class!
No one is too old to be a witness for Christ.